my old oars and my good neighbour

by underswansea


Lisa and I like to explore in the early morning. On the way back home from the creek we thought we would stop for coffee. In a shop next door is a place that grooms dogs. We looked at Willow’s claws and decided she could use a trim.

I looked inside and saw they were clipping a German Shepherd’s nails. It would be a wait. I sipped my coffee and pulled Willow along.

The store beside the dog grooming is an antique shop. I tend to avoid the place because it’s ran by a type A arsehole that tries to pass off everything over 10 years old as an antique. I had to deal with him when I ran the newspaper and print shop. He was one of the new breed of business people attracted to the valley willing to fight over every single dollar. He always rubbed me the wrong way.

There outside was an old baby carriage. I moved in close to get a picture to send to Kelsie and say we bought it for her, knowing they would be concerned it wouldn’t meet today’s safety standards.

After I took the photo I noticed a pair of old oars standing up behind the carriage. I recognized them right away, from the squeaky old oarlocks to the nick in the paddle and the flaking varnish.

They were the same old oars that were stolen from under my fishing boat a year before. Damn I’d been pissed off. Who would steal somebody’s oars? I’d taken the boat out of my truck a few days earlier and left it in front of my house. When I went to store the boat the oars were gone.

Here I was looking at my long lost old oars. I checked the price tag – $145 – Jesus Christ I couldn’t believe it!

The owner saw me but didn’t come out.

I went back to the truck and told Lisa. She was ready to go in there and demand the stolen oars back. I said no. They were long gone and as much as I dislike the owner, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him who stole them. He just bought them.

If they were cheaper I may have bought them back, but I knew that bugger wouldn’t give an inch, so I didn’t even try.

Surprisingly Lisa was more pissed off than I. That doesn’t happen often.

Later that afternoon, my good neighbour called me over for a beer. He’s a grower like me. We exchanged information. His tomatoes are well ahead of mine.

I told him the story about the old stolen oars. How they were stolen from my house right across the street from his. How the old oars squeaked. How much money the guy wanted for the old oars. I told him I didn’t get too bent out of shape because I had another couple of old oars in the basement.

We moved on to another beer, and then another, he looked more and more disgusted, shaking his head and said, “What is this world coming to?”

I told him how much those old oars meant to me.

He was indignant, angry even, we were five beer in.

He said, ”You don’t mess with somebody’s whores!”

I said, “What?”

He said, “You don’t fuck with somebody’s old whores.”

Every time I had said ‘old oars’ he heard ‘old whores’.

I asked him what he thought was going on across the street. He told me he wasn’t nosy. For all he knew, I could have had a couple of old whores stashed away!

I’m glad he thought so highly of me.

Our tomatoes kept growing and we kept laughing. It was almost worth losing the old whores . . . I mean oars!